“We are the martyrs, you’re just squashed tomatoes!” Laughing through the Fears in Postcolonial British Comedy: Chris Morris’s Four Lions and Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block

Sarah Ilott


This article analyses the latest wave of postcolonial British comedy in film. The most recent generation of comedy has turned away from the mild and inclusive comedy of its predecessors that was often structured around benign representations of multicultural Britain. In Four Lions and Attack the Block comedy is employed alternatively to reveal social fears exacerbated by the media hype surrounding particular figures often excluded from banal multicultural discourse. This work asserts that the films encourage laughter as an alternative response to fear, and in doing so attempt to break a cycle in which fear creates its object. This is a genre-defining moment for postcolonial British comedy, as the recent films depart from the convention of happily restoring deviant characters to society, a convention that has the tendency to offer comedy as an unrealistic solution to social problems and validates a mainstream society.


Britishness; comedy; suicide bomber; gang; multiculturalism

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